Showing blog posts tagged with: summer

Back to school

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Just as everything must begin somewhere, so everything must come to an end, and now our summer has too. The kids are back in school, Ilir’s back at work, and I must start to face my new life of being on sick leave, rather than pretend I’m on some sort of extended holiday. While everyone was off it was one thing, I could hide behind the beautiful weather and having the kids around. I got wrapped up in trying to give them some sort of family holiday that they would enjoy, rather than actually accept this new reality of mine. Now I can’t really do that anymore, and it’s painful, but necessary to accept, to face life head-on.  

 

I keep thinking, maybe I can take something up? Like crocheting, or cooking or… god knows what. It’s hard to think of myself as not being useful, but I know that most likely I wont take up crocheting or cooking, or anything else. I can’t walk the kids to or from school as it’s too far for me on most days. The truth is, there really isn’t much I could do. Oh but that’s probably not true, I’m making up a sad story that features me as a victim, and telling it to myself. How the brain loves a bit of drama, and being the victim is quite seductive. I mustn't fall into that trap. Ok, maybe I wont be taking up crocheting - my fingers are stiff and aching from the side effects of chemo, and writing on a keyboard is about all I can manage. Still, I can do other things. Indeed, I must do other things, I must keep myself busy as much as I can, and not drift into the temptation of wallowing in self pity.

 

Seeing everyone off this morning was painful, but it’s a sort of pain I’m grateful for. It was me facing reality rather than pretending, which I value and appreciate. The reality is that I feel quite lost without my work, I feel as if I have no real place in the world. I miss both my job and my colleagues, but most of all, I miss the person I am when I’m working. I miss being an active parent in my children’s lives, I miss a life where I worried about putting myself together in the morning and weather or not I had a dress ready for the day. I miss being frustrated with my hair for not cooperating with me… But these are feelings I must face, without self pity, and accept and then move forwards. By pretending they don’t exist, I give them so much more power, and without really noticing, I feel sorry for myself. The brain might love a bit of drama and victimising oneself, but no good will come of it, I’ve seen it (and criticised it) in others too many times.

 

School started yesterday for the boys, finally all three of them are together in one place again. After every summer, the school starts with a speech in the yard, and some ice cream for the kids, and parents present. Last year I had forgotten, and thought it was an ordinary day at school, so I had work planned and ended up standing there quite stressed and without a good plan for what to do with the kids. This year, I was prepared and present, ready to really be there for my kids. Only to be facing each of their teachers, looking at me with sad, empathic eyes, asking me how I was bearing up, and telling me I looked quite well, you know - all things considered. I wasn’t actually a parent there after all, I was a cancer patient, and I hated it. One teacher reassured me that the kids wouldn’t have to talk about their summer - naturally she thought it had been horrid and that he wouldn’t want to talk about it. And I thought “But he’s had a lovely summer, he wants to tell you all about it!”... It’ll take some getting used to, being seen as just the cancer and not me as a parent, but ironically, if I want to be an active parent I must get used to it and not allow it to push me away from being part of their school life.

 

More beads for my string

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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On Saturday, we all mustered all our energy, weathered the heat, and packed ourselves into two cars to head for Kolmården. The trip by car is not far (probably like an hour and a half), but with three kids who are not used to travelling further than school, some breaks were needed. The kids were excited, I was apprehensive. How on earth would I have the energy to do this??? And not just the walking around, but the being around so many people, not having a comfortable place to sit, god - the fears were never-ending! 

fox at Kolmarden

tiger at kolmarden

sea lion at kolmarden

But we got through it, we saw all the animals, we rode in the funicular safari, and best of all - Jacob got to see the dolphins. He's been wishing to swim with dolphins for years, but has never actually seen them in real life. He was absolutely transfixed, watching as they swam and jumped and skidded across the water, laughing as they performed their tricks. It was magical to see! All of the kids loved the show (as inspite of myself, so did I. I normally have very strict opinions on animals being constricted to small spaces and learning tricks for the benefits of humans, but decided to put all those feelings aside for the day), loved seeing the animals and riding the little roller coaster shaped like a dolphin. 

 

It was unbelievably hot, the kids were occasionally cranky, so was I to be perfectly honest. In the end, I was too tired to take another step, as I've got a slight tendency to overdo it (ok, I'll run myself down before I can accept defeat, if I'm being very honest about it). Still, it was a lovely day, I'm so happy to have done it! Next year, I hope to go back with them. Next year... It's hard to find the right balance between making plans for the future (as is so typically human), and accepting that the only thing we have is right now, and the future is uncertain. This is true for all of us, not just those of us adjusting to life with advanced cancers, but we seem to have such a hard time remembering it.

 

The past is gone, and the future is unwritten. It took  me a long time after the diagnosis to understand this. To understand that what I was grieving was something that had already happened, and something that had never really been there in the first place. I grieved the fact that I had breast cancer as though that was something that happened when I was told about it. But the truth is, it had been happening for years without my knowing it. And I grieved the future I had planned, as though I was entitled to it. Then I got my head around it, and realised that even if I was just finding out about it, I had already been living with cancer, perhaps for years. Just because it was new to me, didn't mean that it was new. It's sort of like being cheated on - you find out after it's already happened, it's new to you and it changes the way you look at the past, but it doesn't change the past. And just the same way, the future I was imagining, was not real. It never had been. I was grieving an idea. 

 

And when the past is lost to you, and you understand that the future is unwritten and yours is not the only hand doing the writing, something changes inside you. Because all of a sudden, the only thing you truly have, is this moment. No matter how hard I fight, how determined I am to be a miracle patient, to be there for my boys, the only thing I can truly control, indeed the only thing that's actually real and not rewritten or made up of hopes and dreams, is the now. I wont make plans for the future - when it comes, if it comes, I will let it happen, grab life by the throat and make the most of it. I still plan on surviving, I still choose to remain unrealistically hopeful, but my main focus is on right now. I will enjoy the right now, I will squeeze as much as I can get from it, and when it becomes the past, I will cherish the good memories and let go of the rest. 

 

Right now, I'm sitting on my comfy chair on my beloved balcony, enjoying the breeze and the fact that it's not suffocatingly hot anymore, the kids tucked up in the sofa just inside, watching Tinkerbell, tired after a day by the pool. In a moment, I'll go in and join them, squeeze myself in next to them and cuddle them and smell their necks. And I'll enjoy the hell out of that moment as well. And what I've learned is that it's worth it to keep challenging yourself, t do things that scare you, even though you worry how your going to get through them, because you'll have a wonderful time doing it, and then you get that precious memory to keep. And if it all goes poop shaped, it will soon be in the past, and you can choose not to dwell on it! 


Milo inspecting the elephants. The baby one was cute, but the others a bit scary!


On the Safari tour high up in the trees!


At times, it was a long way down, and sitting on the lap felt safer.


Looking for lions


On the roller coaster for the second time - this time their grandfather got to take them, as my legs and my tummy were not up for another ride...


Birthday circus

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Milo turned five a few weeks ago, and for his birthday got a trip to the circus for the whole family. While I was less than thrilled, all of the kids where excited to go - all though Jacob expressed some concers about the clowns and whether or not they where frightening. 

 

We all ended up having a wonderful time. The kids from watching the show, and me from watching the kids. It really was amazing seeing how they reacted to all of it. Jonathan with shining eyes, on the edge of his seat, laughing and clapping. Milo watching, and without realising it doing the movements along with the performers. And Jacob sitting as still as a statue, nothing registering on the outside, just taking it all in. He was quite concerned about the elephants, and had that one lost its tusks, and did she not look sad. He is such an animal lover...

One of the best things, as far as the boys where  concerned, was the candy floss. Milo ended up having spun sugar all over his face, his hair - everywhere. After the show two kids where asleep, while the third declared it to have been the best night of his life. All in all - worth it. 


Animal lover

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Jacob has such a hand with animals. He absolutely loves animals, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Cats, dogs, horses, they all seem to flock around him, adoring him. And he's not like those kids who handle animals (pets mostly) really roughly, he really does understand that they're people, just of a different sort than us. 

 

Needless to say, he was thrilled when he got to go and visit animals with his granddad the other week. The highlight of the visit to the animals was apparently feeding the rabbits - but to me, this pic says it all...


Happy IHAD!

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Happy IHAD, or International Hilla Appreciation Day!

Today is my birthday, though a few years ago I changed it and instead founded IHAD - a day of sipping champagne (whilst staying only tipsy the whole day, it's harder than it sounds!) and people come from near and far (though mostly near, to be honest) to tell me how wonderfull I am. Those are the only rules, the rest you play by ear, but there must be champagne and compliments. 

When I established IHAD a few years ago, I was getting painfully aware that I was no longer simply thirty, but in my thirties. This took the fun out of my birthday, and of course, part of the brilliance of the IHAD is that it doesn't focus on the year, it's simply a cellebration. Like christmas. 

Unfortunately, the kids did not react well to all the exitement and the flow of visitors, and where over exited and high on sugar, and at eachothers throats all day long, but apart from that it was a brilliant day. And since it's IHAD, I got to put on my prettiest dress and my highest heels and my heaviest necklace and therefor felt quite as wonderful as everyone was (forced to) telling me I was. Now the monsters boys are in bed, all the visitors have left, and I'm enjoying some quiet time on my lovely balcony. 

Truly, I think IHAD is one of my best inventions, and unless your name starts with an S or an M, you should copy it! (Sorry, but ISAD or IMAD is just not going to work...)

 

Photo taken by Jonas Forsberg


Pimped!

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Jacob needed new shoes desperately, but finding summer shoes at the very end of the summer is not the easiest. So rather than running through every shoe shop in Stockholm looking for a pair his size, we bought a cheap pair of canvas shoes in his size, and made a project of it! We changed the colours and decorated with his name. 

 

We had a fun afternoon together decorating them, they ended up costing practically nothing, and he loves them so much he tries to sneak them to bed with him. 


Three weeks and four days in

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Our holidays are coming to an end, at this point it's starting to feel sad. I've gotten used to having all this time off, day after day of free time to spend with the boys. We haven't gone abroad, instead we've spent time around Stockholm. It's been really fun, and I feel abit weird going back to work, always worrying about the kids when I'm at work only to worry about work when I'm with the kids. 

 

I haven't really been able to let work go completely, I've still answered important emails, and tried to help out when my team's needed it. In retrospect, maybe not the best way to spend this precious time, but I am who I am, and change is hard. However, I've vowed to be better at leaving early from time to time, maybe take a day and work from home once in a while. Considering the amount of extra time I put in at work, it would probably do me good!